Well MLS First Kick didn't go as I expected, I ended the week with 4 right picks (including the exacto on the Phi vs. Hou-the score right) and 5 picks wrong. No my best work
Houston Dynamo at Seattle Sounders - Friday 8pm MT - FSC
Well this may be one of the biggest matches of the early season for the Seattle Sounders who were picked to be a top team in the Western Conference this season but have started 0-2 with loses to both LA and New York and will look to recover their home form against the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo have their own issues after losing to the Philly Union at home on MLS First Kick, like where are the strikers? Brian Ching is hurt, Oduro was traded midweek to Chicago, so it is likely that newly acquired Calen Carr, rookie Will Bruin, and off season pickup Jason Garey will be called on to help fill the voids up top. There are other options, moving Corey Ashe forward, actually playing Cam Weaver, but it is unclear what the Creamsicles will do. I have to pick the home team in this one as while Seattle has yet to score a goal in their two matches, they should be able to find the back of the net against Houston. 2-1 for the Sounders.
Not a lot to say about this. Seattle has had a tough road so far but after a very lackluster pre-season I just don't know where to judge them to be. Hard to find much fault in losing to LA and NYRB both with such a quick turnaround on the games. Houston is a middle of the road team who will either end up on the top end of the almost to the playoffs or the bottom end of the just barely in class. I see Freddy Montero finally giving Seattle something to put into that GF column of the stat sheet. 1-0 Seattle.
more after the jump:
OK, lots more action in MLS this weekend:
Portland Timbers at Toronto FC - noon MT - TSN
Three teams got beat by two goals last weekend and two of them will face off to see if they can improve their efforts. Toronto was a very tough team to beat at home each of the last two years with just 3 losses in both 2010 and 2009, but this team looked really bad (except De Ro and Santos) last weekend, so they will need to show real improvement soon or we may see them go back to the trades and changes that have been such a part of their time in MLS. Portland had a great preseason but found out last week that this isn't the USL, their 3-1 loss to the defending MLS Cup Champs Colorado. It will be interesting to see if and how they rebound in Toronto, one thing will be clear they will get to see a very tough crowd for visitors to play in front of. This could be a very ugly match, 2-2 draw.
Sloppiest game of the weekend is the way this one will turn out. Neither team was impressive last week, by any stretch. 2-1 to Toronto just because they are at home. Both teams will score though as neither has a defense to be impressed by.
New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew - 2pm MT -??
Perhaps no team has taken a bigger hit with national team call ups than the New York Red Bulls( Dane Richards-Jamaica, Rafa Marquez-Mexico, Bouna Coundoul-Senegal, Juan Agudelo & Tim Ream- USMNT, Sacir Hot-US U20), then add in injuries to Chris Albright, Thierry Henry, Jan Solli and Roy Miller and you see their dilemma. For the Columbus Crew, no call up for Chad Marshall and only Korey Veeder is on national team duty with the US U20 team, but a few injuires Danny O'Rourke, Shaun Francis and Emilio Renteria are unlikely to see action. So this will be one of the many matches more about who isn't playing, but for Columbus it offers them a chance to pull off a huge home win over the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Columbus looked so bad last week against DC United that even with almost a full team of starters missing for New York, I still think they won't get the win as this ends in a 1-1 draw.
Any other week this is a lopsided match, but with half of NY's players hurt or off on international duty it evens out a bit more. The one benefit to this game for New York is that it gets to test it depth in a comfortable situation. Columbus is going to need to change how they are playing after their last two games, those losses to RSL (CONCACAF) and DC United showed just how far the team has slid this off season. 1-0 New York.
Vancouver Whitecaps at Philadelphia Union - 2pm MT - Direct Kick
This is one of the many MLS matches that is impacted by the FIFA weekend, as Phily will be missing Zac MacMath and Amobi Okugo, the Whitecaps will be without Michael Boxall, Omar Salgado (who is now allowed to play for them), and their captain Jay DeMerit. I was impressed with the way the Whitecaps attacked the match on opening day, but the big question remains if they are this good or is TFC that bad? I was very impressed with hometown boy Terry Dunfield, DP Eric Hassli, and former RSL'er Atiba Harris, but I thought their defense was a bit suspect as well. For Philly can the distraction of Carlos Ruiz be overcome? With Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga providing most of the offense in 2010, I am still confused why they would risk the antics of Ruiz, for me their biggest questions last year were defensive one and so far Faryd Mondragon hasn't been tested. This could be a very entertaining match, I can see it having a number of goals scored and ending 3-2 for the home side.
Vancouver showed up last week for their debut, it was surprising to see such a performance. Still a few issues to work out, but by far the most surprising team so far this season. Philadelphia has started out well also with their result on the road at Houston providing them 3 points to start their second season off with. I think Vancouver is further ahead at this point than Philadelphia was last year, but that was last year for the Union. 3-2 Union.
Sporting Kansas City at Chicago Fire - 2pm MT - Telefutura
A lot of the attention the last couple weeks for SKC has been focused around sporting85, better known as Chad Ochocinco who has left the comfort of the NFL (for a while) to go on trial and train with Sporting KC. Lost in the shuffle is the fact that to start their 10 match road trip to the newly named LiveStrong Sporting Park, they were able to get a tough fought road win over Chivas USA last weekend. They will be missing some players due to international callus (Kei Kamara & Shavar Thomas), so heading to Chicago will be a test for this team who will be facing a revamped Chicago Fire team. The Fire were able to leverage a great goal by Diego Chaves to get a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas last weekend, now they get to open their home schedule and they will be looking to continue to build around the work of Marco Pappa. I don't think Omar Bravo will sneak up on Chicago, but with the focus on possession in the midfield, he could cause real issues and rookie C.J. Sapong has already found the back of the net in a MLS match. SKC is too much and get a 2-1 win to keep their road trip looking good.
SKC did what they needed to last week on the road at the Home Depot Center against Chivas USA. Just 3 more months guys and you can have a home game too! I do feel sorry for their away stretch that they need to go through but just think of how nice it will be for them to have nearly 3 months of straight home games? As for the Fire they did a great job holding the Western Conference Champion FC Dallas to a single point and with this being their home opener you would think they might keep up some momentum, and I think they will keep some, just not enough to walk away with anything another single point. 1-1 draw.
D.C. United at New England Revolution - 2:30pm MT - Direct Kick
MLS week one saw a number of surprised and these two team ranked at the top of the list, DC got a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK, while the Rev's went to the HDC and got a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy. Now the two will face off to see which can build on their momentum of week one and convince the skeptics (like me) that they are for real. After a 2 goal performance last weekend many eyes around the league will be focused on Charlie Davies, and if he can lit DC United from their funk of recent years back to the top of the Eastern Conference. For New England, last weekend surprised a lot of people (including me) by using a tried and true method of dealing with the LA Galaxy; get a lead and then make them work to try to catch up. Both teams have a lot of injuries heading into this match, and if either side can get a win, they will look much more like the real deal than they did just two weeks ago. I think this one will end in a 1-1 draw as both teams prove they are better than a lot of people thought but not as good as the week one hype.
New England was what I consider my biggest folly of last week. They showed up against a team that (on paper at least) is leagues above them. Still only came out with a single point, but it was better than the goose egg I had them down for. D.C. was another giant surprise. Amazing how one player can change a team. I don't mean that as a he's doing all of the work sort of thing. I think the team as a whole got better when he came in and that is what lead Davies to be able to pull a brace from that game. This one will show if that pace can be kept up. 3-1 D.C.
San Jose at FC Dallas - 7pm MT - Direct Kick
It is unlikely for San Jose that it will be chilly, windy and driving rain in week two as it was for their home opener last weekend, but it is just as likely that they will struggle as they face off against one of the best teams of 2010, FC Dallas. FC Dallas will be looking for another good crowd at home like they got last week in their 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire, it will be interesting to see if they get that same type of crowd. While I think we saw some incredible minutes from San Jose at the end of their 1-0 loss to RSL last weekend, it took them going down a goal to really start to play with any purpose and vision. If they start Simon Dawkins he could be the guy who helps really push them towards a offensive style and could be a handful for Daniel Hernandez in the midfield. FC Dallas will look for last years MVP David Ferreira to carry them to a home win, and he should be able to do so in a tough fought 2-1 win.
After the monsoon that was their game with RSL on Saturday I have to think that San Jose is not happy with how things are starting for them this season. Any one of a number of mistakes changed for the better and the result changes in their favor. Then we come to Dallas. I can't wrap my head around that game. The result was off from what it should have been and the play was meh at best. A change in quality is going to be needed pretty quick or this season is going to be a struggle for the hoops. 2-1 San Jose.
Los Angeles Galaxy at Real Salt Lake - 7pm MT - Direct Kick
Well my match preview on this one will be coming early on Saturday morning, but I will give you something to think about. David Beckham has a very mixed record in matches since joining LA, he hasn't been to Sandy since the ground breaking and without Landon there will be a lot of pressure on him to do something more than watch Juninho score goals.
Easily the match of the week. Both sides are down key guys due to international games but because of RSL's depth I think it hits them less. Espindola and Paulo Jr will be able to adequately cover for the missing Saborio, but who can really replace Donovan? Playing at Rio Tinto isn't doing L.A. any favors either. 2-1 for RSL.
Colorado Rapids at Chivas USA - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick
Well the defending champs Colorado took care of expansion side Portland to start their 2011 season, now they head to LA to face the rebuilding effort that is Chivas USA. Both sides will be missing some key pieces due to callups, Colorado will miss Sanna Nyassi-Gambia & Omar Cummings-Jamacia, Chivas will miss Michael Umana-Costa Rica, Andrew Boyens-New Zealand, Alejandro Moreno-Venezula & Zarek Valentin US U20's. The number of injuries isn't huge but it is impactful; Chivas will be missing Simon Elliot and Paulo Nagamura and Colorado will be without Mac Kandji & Andre Akpan. Colorado will have more than enough to take care of this match but it could be closer than you think a tight 2-1 win for the Rapids.
How do you judge Colorado for that last game? It was a great result for them and they did dominate, but it was against the Timbers who looked lost and disjointed for most of the game. Was that just a product of them playing the MLS Cup Champions? We'll see how this week goes to make that judgement, or at least get the picture to clear up a bit. Chivas is rebuilding right now. This game will pose another challenge for them though and it never helps the overall morale of a team to take two losses to start the season, but I can't see any other result at this point even without Cummings up front to help Casey. 2-0 Rapids.
OK, that is it for now and enjoy all the early matches Saturday.
OFF MY SOAPBOX